London is one of the world’s most popular destinations for travellers, and the most visited city in Europe. Many London tourists’ “Things to Do” lists have a West End show on them, but for theatregoers with mobility restrictions, planning a theatre trip in this historic city can be complicated.
Most of London’s theatres date to the Victorian and Edwardian eras, and government restrictions don’t allow many changes to buildings with designated historical status. There’s also no industry standard regarding how information on accessibility is publicised. With the huge amount of websites trying to sell tickets, review shows or share news about the theatre industry, finding accurate, up-to-date access information takes a lot of time. If you’re not sure what you want to see and are looking into a lot of different shows, the process is even longer.
Fortunately, SeatPlan has changed that. The website, started in 2011, aims to help audiences find the best seats for them. Its starring feature is interactive seating plans where theatregoers give their seats a rating and review. They can also post photos from the seats to show what the view of the stage is really like and earn credits towards theatre tokens for doing so. The site has both show and venue pages (which are searchable from the home page), showing details about the theatres and the currently running shows.
On the venue pages, there is a dedicated section for accessibility. SeatPlan focuses on mobility limitations, as the theatres’ architecture is more likely to impact those needing step-free access. SeatPlan explains where the step-free entrance is located (this is usually different from the theatre’s main entrance and is usually not signed). It also states how early you will need to arrive, how much assistance staff are able to provide, and whether there are spaces for wheelchair users and/or transfer seats. SeatPlan also shows exactly where these seats and spaces are in the building, and hosts reviews of these seats.
The site also provides the direct contact details to the theatres’ box offices or access teams. These staff members will be able to provide you with up-to-date information on access performances, help you book suitable tickets and make sure your access requirements are met. They will also be able to advise you of any discounts or other details that you will need to know in order to have the best possible experience at their theatre.
Though there is still some way to go to improve access to London’s theatres, SeatPlan helps by bringing useful access information to one place. For people with mobility restrictions wanting to go to the theatre in London, the site is a great starting place to find the information you need to plan your trip.
Thanks to Laura with SeatPlan for submitting this guest blog post to AbleThrive.com!